Taliban Again Seeks UN Recognition, Pipeline Project
Afghanistan's fundamentalist Taliban regime seized control of the northern city of Pul-e-Kumri today, one of the last remaining opposition military strongholds in the country. Pul-e-Kumri is the fourth strategic city to be taken by the Taliban in just under a week and a half, bringing Taliban militia one step closer to inflicting their rigid version of Islamic law on all Afghan citizens.
Following this week's military gains, Taliban military officials are positioning themselves for a seat in the United Nations, which is currently occupied by former Kabul government president Burhanuddin Rabbani. Recognition by the UN would allow advancement on a pipeline project that would carry petroleum products from Central Asia to India, Pakistan, and western Afghanistan. The project, headed by California-based oil company Unocal and Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia, would greatly benifit the Taliban, who describe it as the "economic backbone of the country," with thousands of construction jobs and millions of dollars in annual royalties.
Russian officials feel that Taliban advances pose a serious threat to their Commonwealth of Independent States, and plan to support opposition forces against recognition in the United Nations. They are joined by several other European nations who have been vocal in opposing the Taliban's harsh version of Islamic law, which has banned women from going to work , attaining an education, or receiving health care in Afghanistan.
Media Resources: Agence Free Press - August 11, 1998
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .